Kings and Queens of the Castle on the Gold Coast for Sand Safari 2016

Surfers Paradise will host Australia's most whimsical artistic celebration this summer, as Sand Safari 2016 transforms the foreshore into a fantasy sandscape featuring favourite DreamWorks film characters from February 5-28.

The popular free event features the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships, drawing thousands of spectators to admire the talents of 12 Australian and international sculptors as they carve magnificent sculptures of Kung Fu Panda and his DreamWorks friends over three days from February 12-14.

Visitors can vote for their favourite creation during February 12-14, with winners to be announced at 4pm on February 14. The completed imaginative masterpieces - each carved from 10 tonnes of sand - will then remain on display on the iconic foreshore until Sunday February 28.

Families can also see sculptors live at work from February 17-21 as they collaborate to craft three separate interactive works including a 20-tonne and two 15 tonne works depicting characters from Madagascar Madness, Shrek's Faire Faire Away and Kung Fu Panda, with the sculptures able to be explored once complete. The interactive sculptures will be on display from February 22-27.

Presented by Streets Ice Cream, Sand Safari is the foremost sand-and-sea-inspired arts event in the Asia Pacific region, and kicks off with the Sand Trail, which sees the event extend beyond the Surfers Paradise precinct with 22 intricately carved sand sculptures installed in hotel lobbies, libraries, shopping centres and public spaces across southeast Queensland, from Tweed Heads to Loganholme.

For the first time in its five-year history, Sand Safari partners with SWELL Sculpture to present a breathtaking open-air exhibit of inflatable art interventions, created by internationally renowned UK artist, Filthy Luker. Making his debut for Sand Safari, Filthy Luker will exhibit multiple marine-themed inflatable works of art throughout Surfers Paradise, including a hanging jellyfish, oversized pink octopus and green tentacles. Best known locally for creating an enormous inflatable octopus positioned on Currumbin's Elephant Rock in 2014, Luker has produced hundreds of innovative sculptures, among them giant squids attacking cities, diversions around huge banana skins and trees accented with oversized googly eyeballs.

Also new this year, will be a pop-up gallery featuring the works of professional and amateur artists as well as those of Surfers Paradise State School students as part of sand-and-sea themed photography competitions. Presented by Streets Ice Cream, Sand Safari is an initiative of the Surfers Paradise Alliance and designed as an interactive event, with plenty of free activities for families and children including beachfront sand sculpting workshops and sand art.

The event is an ideal opportunity for families to experience all Surfers Paradise has to offer at this enchanting time of year, with a walking trail linking the beachfront exhibition to the precinct's retail spaces and many other attractions that together form the Gold Coast's sixth theme park. With so much on offer, families can choose to stay at one of the region's many quality accommodation options, taking advantage of convenient public transport to Sand Safari, or parking is available at Bruce Bishop car park, located just 500m from the beach.

Free events:

- Sand Safari presented by Streets Ice Cream on February 5-28 at Surfers Paradise Foreshore and various other locations.

- 2016 Australian Sand Sculpting Championships on February 12-28 (live sculpting February 12-14; winners announced 4pm February 14; works exhibited until February 28) at Surfers Paradise Foreshore.

- Sand Trail on February 5-28 at Tweed Heads, Surfers Paradise and north to Loganholme.

- Sand and Sea Sculptures (Filthy Luker) on February 5-28 at Multiple locations throughout Surfers Paradise.

- Pop-Up Photographic Gallery and Photography Competition. February 5-28 at the 4217 & the Paradise Centre.

For more information, please visit www.surfersparadise.com


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